Minutes from Plot Holders Meeting

Minutes, Greenbelt Community Garden Club Annual Meeting for Plot Assignments via Zoom  3-23-21

President Martha Tomecek greeted members.

She explained that this meeting will primarily address plot assignment, the waiting list for plots, and a general update on garden club developments.

Future meetings can be held to address issues of interest to members.

Meeting participants can post questions to the chat that will be answered later in the meeting.

A breakout room will be available later for those with questions about the waiting list process.

Melissa will take notes and post them to the website.

Melissa Mackey, Secretary, summarized the work that has been done in the past year by the GCGC Executive committee and interested member volunteers.  That text follows here:

The Garden Club executive committee members and a number of gardeners have volunteered their time to work toward a solution to the issue of increasing shade in the community garden plots.  Although this group of people has always met regularly, during the last year meetings have been unusually frequent, and from late June 2020 until the present time, the group has met weekly.  

There has been frequent collaboration with the Forest Preserve Advisory Board to develop a shade mitigation plan.  This included many garden walks to measure shade and survey trees. 

The culmination has been a February Greenbelt City Council work session at which the FBAP presented their plan, which included our input.  The FPAP report suggests a solution that will protect the gardens from encroaching shade for a number of years. There was positive feedback from the Public Works staff.  We do not yet know what the city council will ultimately decide. We understand there is interest from council members in a garden walk this spring to look at the situation.

We give our thanks to garden club members on the executive committee for their work and expertise, including members Jennifer Stabler and Ben Fischler who documented shade in maps and patiently contributed in meetings. Stephanie Warner also documented shade throughout the day and growing season.  She researched and created representative maps of food forest and native plants that would thrive in the forest edges to replace the many current non-native invasive plants. These plants would provide food for animals, insects, and people. 

Garden Club members who participated in this project operated with as much respect for the health of the forest preserve as the gardens, which are protected inside the forest preserve.

Countless hours were given to research, discussion, meeting with the Forest Preserve Advisory Board members, and writing our reports that the Forest Preserve Advisory Board considered in the process of creating their report for the city.

At the same time, members have worked to update our operations in order to more easily reach and serve community members.  This evening other garden club members will tell you about our new website with fillable forms and the option for Paypal or credit card payments. We now have online banking. We are able to meet by Zoom.  

It would be helpful if you would like to document your own gardening experience with the level of shade in your plot.  Please send an email to your garden coordinator.

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Please also remember that you can always offer your garden coordinator ideas for improving the quality of the community gardens and your experience as a garden club member.   

We expect to have an annual garden clean-up day this spring on a date that is convenient for Public Works.

Ditte McInnes, Treasurer, reported that the new website with fillable forms and the P.O. box are operational and providing convenience for members.  

The club income from plot fees is about $1,000. per year, and we usually spend that amount on a donation to GHI for water and supplies for garden cleanup day.  This year more was spent to develop the website, for the P.O. box, and for Zoom.  We have $9,000. in the bank.

Martha Tomecek, President, introduced Executive Committee members:

Garden Coordinators:  Bob Trumbule, Hamilton Place

                                     Ellen Bastio, Gardenway

                                     Eric Raun, Henry’s Hollow

Stacey Cumberbatch, Waiting List Coordinator

Ditte McInnes, Treasurer

Melissa Mackey, Secretary

Bob mentioned that we now have Google email addresses for each garden coordinator that will stay with the garden area when garden coordinators change.  

In response to questions from meeting participants:

Stacey manages the waiting list on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.  An application for a garden plot can be found on the website.

When a plot becomes available and an applicant’s name comes up, Stacey then contacts that person. The available plot will be shown to the applicant. There are currently 24 people on the waiting list.

Bob mentioned that we support the idea of the city developing more garden areas and those who would benefit from increased gardening options may want to contact the city to express their support.

Martha mentioned that the application form has been changed to reflect information the city requires from a recognition group.

The form has been modified to show demographic information.

Please complete the entire form.

Gardeners who share with others are asked to please send your garden coordinators the email addresses of those who share your plot so we can include them in email communications.

Any current gardeners who would like to share their plot can also send coordinators that information.  Sharing would allow a compatible person from the waiting list to garden.

If current gardeners would like to switch plots, they must fill out the appropriate form from the website and send it to Stacey.

Each garden coordinator has hand-drawn maps of their garden areas that indicate a number for the plot and the amount of the annual fee.

Garden coordinators can send the map to those interested.  Current gardeners have already received the maps by email this month.

Water is available only from an outside tap on the GHI administration building.  It cannot be used with a hose.  Members fill containers from the tap.  Henry’s Hollow and Hamilton are the closest to water.  Gardenway has no nearby source of water.

We hope to pursue water solutions for each garden area and welcome input and members who would like to work on a water committee.

Martha expressed appreciation for the Public Works staff.  They have been very responsive about deliveries of mulch and woodchips, usually within about a week of our request if the ground is dry.  They mow an 8-foot perimeter around the garden areas twice a year.

She also thanked all volunteers who support the GCGC.

Theresa Maxwell thanked the Executive Committee and volunteers for their work, and also expressed appreciation for Public Works.  

The meeting was adjourned.  Those with questions about forms were welcome to stay for assistance.  

Ms. Irwin asked how long it is before a garden that is not in use becomes available?  

Garden Coordinators are aware if a plot is not in use as the growing season begins.  Follow-up is done with members to see if they need help and to provide assistance in case of illness or a family emergency.  When attempts are made to contact the gardener, dues are not paid and an application not renewed, after a 30-day window the plot is made available to a gardener on the waiting list. Similarly, after attempts to make contact, the plot is re-assigned 30 days after the plot assignment meeting if the application and fee payment are not completed.

38 people attended the meeting.

Minutes submitted by Melissa Mackey, Secretary, GCGC